Post 26: A Success for the New Year

The coming of the New Year has made think about this blog. I find I have more to say about being a crafter in general than about being a machine knitter specifically so I am going to change the focus to a more general discussion of how my crafting life and business is doing.

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I have been working on my fox pattern which seems to be very popular on my Etsy shop. I am planning a little range which I hope to launch in the next few weeks. This has lead me to think about the business and my success and blunders.

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I think it is fairly usual for someone trying to set up a business to make mistakes. I have made them all; bought expensive wool, duplicated stock I already have, made expensive items there’s no call for and not paid attention to what people really wanted to buy, charged too little and not mentioned it when friends just haven’t paid me. I am finally beginning to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, and have a little bit of success.

I have read a lot of books on the subject of setting up your craft business (I have included a list of some of my favourites at the end of the blog post). They all start by asking you to think about what kind of business you would like to have. They usually start with a little list that looks something like this.

  1. Would you simply like a place to sell what you make and make enough to cover the cost of craft materials?
  2. Would you like to earn enough to go on holiday?
  3. Would you like to give up your day job?
  4. Would you like to employ a bunch of people and become a business genius?

I would say yes to all of the above really, but the first mark is almost always making enough to cover the cost of craft materials, and for the first time, this month I have actually managed to do that.

How did I get to this point? Personally I picked myself up on my sloppy practices,

I am now more targeted when I’m buying wool – I know what I am going to make and how much it will need.

I now have a really clear idea of what is in my craft room and if someone asks me to make them something I will see if I can make it from yarn I already have rather than using it as an excuse to go straight to LoveKnitting or Deramores.

I take notice of what people are favouriting in my Esty store and what search terms are finding my products. The foxes are getting a lot of hits at the moment so I’m running with them.

Finally I am planning ahead in a detailed way, before I was a bit wishy washy and if I got the time to make something –not always easy with a little one – I would make one thing and then try out a few ideas, useful in some ways but it didn’t fill up the Etsy shop. Now I have a plan for each month, with room for changes and specific time for product development.

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Hitting the first milestone on the list is a small victory in some ways, it is only really one month of success but it’s changed me, this is the point at which I think of my hobby as a business, something I can make a success of, this is when it gets serious.

So the drink which I owe my lovely hubby , great family and kind work colleagues for all their support is getting closer to being bought from the profits of my own company, what a lovely thought!

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The Handmade Market Place by Kari Chapin

Grow your Handmade Business by Kari Chapin

Starting an Etsy business for Dummies by Kate Gatski and Kate Shoup

Blogging for Creatives by Robin Houghton

Online Marketing by Hilary Pullen

Make it Happen: the Princes Trust guide to starting your own business.

Post 26: A Success for the New Year

Post 25: Drop It

Hand Manipulated Stitches
It has taken me a long time to try hand manipulating stitches. I have spent so many frustrating hours at the machine trying to get the stitches to stay in the needles that the thought of letting the drop off deliberately, as you have to for ribbing without a ribber, struck fear into my heart.

Then I got a commission from a friend for a sleeping bag for a new baby. She wanted one of these and I got to wondering if it could be done on a machine.

Confort

 

In this case my friend had seen a picture online and asked if I could make one. Thanks to the wonder of Ravelry I managed to track down the original pattern (Confort in French of course, nothing’s every simple) and the translation which appeared in the comments, I love that site.
So I unpacked my Zippy 90, a machine which I haven’t used much because it’s so basic, no ribber, no patterning devices. I have been working through a course on Craftsy about Machine Knitting the tutor being Susan Guagliumi. She uses a model which is the next one up from mine. That made me look again at my basic machine. I found some lovely wool in John Lewis and I made a swatch. I then sat down with the swatch to see if I could translate the pattern.
The pattern called for cables. I must admit I find cables confusing at the best of times, with clear instructions and the option of turning the work around to see what’s going on on the other side. On a machine you don’t have that option. So I went back to the books. I borrowed Janet Nabney’s method of notation for cables and adapted it for my own design.

And look!

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I got my tension wrong and it came up a bit big but beautiful. I am going to assume that the little lady will grow into it and leave it as it is.

Sometimes I love this hobby, it gives so many opportunities to succeed. I say this from the vantage point of mount smug of course. When I am next in the abyss of dropped stitches, unexpected snags from the tension mast, and the misery of forgetting to put the yarn back in the feeder and dropping the whole lot on your feet, weights and all, I will be saying something very different.

I am planning a shop revamp in the next month or two. I’ll let you know when the plans get close to fruition.

Post 25: Drop It